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Member News: C.C. Eship / NACCE Journal Summer/Fall 2008

Entrepreneurship Education - An Innovative Blended e-Learning Approach

Thursday, January 14, 2010   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
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American colleges and universities have embraced entrepreneurship, making it the fastest-growing field of study on campuses in recent decades. Currently, more than 80 percent of the two- and four-year, accredited, not-for-profit colleges and universities in the United States teach entrepreneurship courses. Of the nearly 1,200 accredited two-year colleges, 78 percent offer one or more entrepreneurship courses for academic credit.

These statistics are music to the ears of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. The Foundation works to bring the importance of entrepreneurship to the forefront of the American consciousness and supports programs that encourage people of all ages to engage in entrepreneurship. Kauffman also promotes entrepreneurship as a legitimate field of study in higher education that is accessible to all students.

As a catalyst of entrepreneurship, the Foundation encourages institutions to provide students across the entire campus access to entrepreneurship education. In studying successful entrepreneurs and examining their college backgrounds, it became apparent the business schools were not graduating the vast majority of next-generation entrepreneurs. They were coming from engineering, biology, computer science, history, nursing, the arts–from every area of study. In fact, liberal arts was a strong breeding ground for many of the innovators in the study. This realization and the subsequent Kauffman programmatic response contributed to a new movement on campuses.

Entrepreneurship is one of the most important aspects of our economy and students understand that. They no longer believe they can take a job with a large corporation and expect to spend their entire career there. Students know they must build a wide range of interdisciplinary skills, which will give them maximum flexibility and preparation in their future careers. Entrepreneurship is one such skill. Students want to learn how to recognize opportunity, harness the resources to exploit opportunity, exercise their creativity, create sustainable solutions, take the inherent risks, and participate in the rewards.

Benefits for All

Community colleges, in particular, are well positioned to meet the demands of their students and their communities. To help further entrepreneurship education in community colleges and reach all students on campus, the Foundation introduced the first, comprehensive, blended e-learning course material in entrepreneurship developed specifically for community colleges. Planning the Entrepreneurial Venture™ (PEV) course material and delivery method offers a dynamic and engaging experience to students seeking the entrepreneurial knowledge and skills required for venture creation.

Why a blended learning approach? Research substantiates the benefits. By blending the approach among a variety of meeting types and delivery methods, each student can become fully engaged in at least some course activities–face-to-face instructions, audio, video, online activities, and more. Colleges using PEV as their course material indicate students are more likely to complete a blended e-learning course. Community colleges have also stated this delivery method enables them to reach markets, such as students in rural areas, not previously reached.

PEV’s blended e-learning course material provides students with core entrepreneurial knowledge and key concepts needed to consider starting a business. Its practical approach teaches students how to research, develop, and write detailed, start-up business plans that can be used to create successful businesses. The blended e-learning environment provides an interactive experience, which combines the flexibility of Internet-based e-learning with the benefits of face-to-face instruction. The delivery method incorporates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning modalities. The blending of rich, on-line content with the classroom environment enables students to effectively learn and practice the knowledge and skills required to successfully evaluate a business idea and develop the idea into a new business.

In PEV, students experience all aspects of a new venture–from determining their personal vision to conducting market analysis to testing financial feasibility–drawing from the whole spectrum of business and management. The material demonstrates why good planning leads to successful business performance. Students gain insight in how the various pieces of the business’s puzzle fit together and why the different aspects need to be managed in harmony for the venture to start up and operate successfully.

The materials center on the business planning process–opportunity recognition, business concept development, feasibility testing, and the business plan. The business plan for a new venture includes four major sections: management and organization plan, product/service plan, marketing plan, and financial plan. Students, through personal discovery, gain the knowledge, skills, concepts, and strategies relevant for start-up and early stage entrepreneurs. The practical, hands-on approach encourages students to immerse themselves in the vision, research, and planning aspects of a new venture.

PEV’s learning model is designed to introduce students to concepts, give them an opportunity to practice those concepts, and then apply the knowledge to their own ventures. A variety of tools, templates, and resources designed to teach and reinforce key learning points support the core, learning environment.

On-line content. The e-learning text provides core information supported with examples, analogies, tips, reality checks, and insights from real entrepreneurs. Students can progress through each chapter in a linear fashion or explore specific topics and media that attract their attention.

Real entrepreneurs. The PEV Overview introduces students to five practicing entrepreneurs who offer insights, tips, and mentorship throughout the course. Each chapter automatically opens with an audio clip featuring one of these entrepreneurs.

On-line activities. The interactive, online activities reinforce major concepts as students apply what they are learning to entrepreneurial ventures. Students receive immediate feedback and explanations as they work through the activities. Many of these online activities follow the Backyard Solutions scenario, in which an entrepreneur assesses and develops his business idea.

Assignments. The course material includes both a business plan template and a financial planning template. Each chapter’s out-of-class assignments guide students through the business planning process and provide a simple, question and answer, step-by-step approach to writing their own plans.

Scenario worksheets. Woven throughout the course are 19 Sparkle and Gleam scenarios, which reinforce concepts presented in each chapter. The scenarios follow Carmen on her entrepreneurial journey.

Exercises. PEV exercises are individual or group activities that give students practice in the business planning process.

Case studies. Case studies are additional exercises in which students can apply their new knowledge and skills. The case studies zero in on the key concepts presented throughout the chapters.

More Info. The More Info items enhance the course material and include links to audio and video clips, Internet resources and articles, and research periodicals. Numerous current books focusing on entrepreneurship and innovation are also included. Many of these resources were updated and revised in June 2008.

Assessments. As students complete a chapter, they can check their understanding of the material by answering 10 multiple-choice questions. Each incorrect response receives an explanation with the appropriate answer.

The Kauffman Foundation is dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship education in higher education. And one specific goal is to help instructors and colleges jump start their entrepreneurship courses through implementing PEV’s turn-key, comprehensive package of students materials, resources, and instructor guide. In fact, many colleges use PEV to jump start the first entrepreneurship course offering at their colleges.

To review Planning the Entrepreneurial Venture or learn more about the Kauffman Foundation’s research, contact Tina Sterling at tmsterling@tcstrat.com or (816) 421-1106.


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